Tuesday, May 27, 2008

When a Four Year Old Decorates...

Before you have children you often picture what a wonderful thing it will be to have them. The children will be perfect and somehow you never imagine any of the work involved. No parent-to-be ever thinks that they will be changing diapers 8 times a day on a light day. Oh yes, I changed diapers- lots of them.

Things have changed since the diaper days. There is still much that must be done to keep up around the house, and now the kids can even help. While it is really nice to get the little people involved, sometimes it is best to get them out of the way for a few minutes of peace and quiet while the dishes get finished.

A few weeks ago we had one of those peaceful cleaning moments at the house. The kids, all three of them, were sent into the front yard to entertain themselves. I am not a big fan of dishes, but it can often be much quicker and easier if the kids are outside. Then I don't need to turn around every five seconds and answer a hypothetical question about burping cows solving all our energy needs, or settle a dispute that can easily erupt into name calling and foot stomping.

After a few minutes of blissful scrubbing and stacking dishes into the dishwasher, Savannah, my middle child and informer of all wrongdoings by her brothers, sticks her head in the front door and says, "Sammy is picking up a dead frog."

Of course, my answer as a superior parent was, "Tell him to stop it." That seemed to satisfy her, and she left. I was happy it wasn't anything serious and I didn't have to stop what I was doing.

Peace settled back in for a total of 2 and a half minutes before Savannah shouted through the open door, "Dad, Sammy won't put the dead frog down."

The entire time I am debating with myself, "Is this something I need to worry about?" As long as he is not eating the frog, I think I am ok. I say very forcefully to Savannah, "Tell him that I said he needs to put down the dead frog- right this minute." I am thinking that the authoritative command of my voice will transfer to my daughter and she can pull off giving these instructions to her 4 year old brother so I don't need to go out and deal with the dead frog issue.

Now I move on to some other constructive activity, like clearing the counter top or something equally exciting. Dealing with frog boy is looking like more fun, but I know that I am due an update on the Kermit situation anytime, and the whole production is beginning to amuse me. I am trying to think of witty comebacks to whatever the next exchange will be, but you can not be prepared for everything.

Savannah comes back in and before she can say anything I ask her, "Did Sammy put the frog down?"

"Yes, but he put it in a tree." she says. I have no idea what that means, and now I am annoyed because I didn't think of anything good to say in return to that statement.

I said, "What? Alright, well he is not carrying it anymore. Tell your brothers they have 5 more minutes out front then it will be time to come in." I hate it when I take the time to think up good one-liners that I can't even use. I thought for sure I would get a couple of more times to say something creative during the croaked frog exchange.

And then I forgot all about the frog. The next morning I came out of the house, locked the front door, and came down the front steps. I look up and there is the frog. Flat as a pancake, and sitting on this miniature little evergreen tree that we have in our front yard like a warped Christmas tree ornament at Ozzy Osbourne's house. I had to laugh. It was gross, but very funny.

A new plan materialized, I needed to see how long it would take my wife, Amy, to notice, and I needed to take a picture as soon as I got home. Amy said nothing about the frog on the way to work or after we got home. I was able to get a couple of photos of the frog and then I waited.

Boy was I mad when she asked me, "Did you see the frog?" Now I am starting to get upset. Can't I have any fun at all with the dead frog? Amy is not upset, maybe a little grossed out, but mostly just amused. Maybe I can get my Mother-In- Law to come over and look at it. I refuse to take the frog off the tree and Amy doesn't care. So the frog stays up.

A week goes by with the frog in the tree. I have just come to accept the frog as if it is a part of the yard and don't even think about him anymore. Then one day, the neighborhood walking group comes looking for Amy. A couple of the Moms get together and walk their dogs around the block. Amy had called them on her cell phone from the minivan and they showed up at the house early to meet her.

We make the obligatory small talk while we wait for Amy, and I am just thankful that I put shorts on and was not running around the house in my boxers when they showed up. Nina, one of the neighborhood moms, says, "Nice frog!" Total gross-out by both of the Moms! Payoff. Finally, flat frog earned his rent. I got a couple of, "Ewwws" and a, "Nasty!" Plus, I was able to tell the Sammy story. I was finally happy.

But it goes without saying that every good thing must come to an end. Flat Kermit was no different. We had some good windy storms roll through town and Kermie went with them. It will all be ok, Sammy will be happy to decorate something else with the next flat frog he finds. I just hope he keeps it outside.

Flat Kermit, as Sammy intended for him to be seen.

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